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Top 10 property security tips for keeping cars, homes and boats safe this summer

 

Whether your clients are headed out for a much-needed summer vacation or planning an at-home staycation, here are top property security tips to keep their homes, vehicles and boats safe.

Top 10 property security tips for homes and possessions

Summer is peak season for home burglaries, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, as quoted in PropertyCasualty360. Summer travel, outdoor activity, and open doors and windows due to warmer weather all contribute to the problem. The FBI says there are more than 1.12 million home burglaries annually, each averaging well over $2,000 in loss.

Here are our top 10 property security tips for keeping homes safe:

10. Without a doubt, a home security system is a terrific deterrent. Let your security company know you’re leaving and when you’ll be back. Security specialists say that even posting one of their signs, without buying a system, is a good deterrent. However, many burglars know they can get in and out before police arrive, so follow these additional tips.

9. When leaving on vacation, ensure all deadbolts are locked and accessible windows are not only locked but have a second security item such as a thumb lock or even a dowel rod in use. If at home, don’t leave first floor windows or doors open/unlocked at night or even if you’re leaving for just a couple of hours.

8. Make it look like someone’s home, while at work or on vacation: Exterior lights off during the day, on at night.  Interior lights on staggered timers, day and night. Landline phone ringers turned down. A radio is playing, loud. 

7. More tips to making your home look occupied while on vacation, courtesy of this PropertyCasualty 360 article: Keep water circulating in your pool. Ensure the lawn mowing and watering continue on schedule. Have the post office hold your mail. Stop newspaper delivery. 

6. Garages are often the entry point, so keep doors closed. When going on vacation, disconnect the automatic opener and lock it manually to prevent entry by thieves who can crack the electronic code. 

5. Keep travel plans a secret. Don’t post your upcoming vacation on Facebook. Be mindful of how you word your out-of-office automatic email. Tell your kids not to share travel plans with anyone, even friends.

Related: Our top 6 summer claims and how you can help your clients prevent them

4. Hide your valuables. Thieves usually go to bedrooms first, looking for cash and jewelry. Move jewelry to a safe or safe deposit box. Make sure expensive or easily carried electronics, fine art or other valuables can’t be seen from windows. 

3. Update credit card companies to your travel plans, telling them which cities you’ll be visiting, so they don’t put your cards on hold.

2. Turn off water lines to the house to prevent a broken water hose to your washer flooding while you’re gone. Turn off your icemaker. Unplug electronics and small appliances in case of a power surge.

1. Ask a trustworthy neighbor to keep an eye on your home while you’re gone.

 

Top 10 property security tips for vehicles

10. Don’t leave anything in your vehicle you wouldn’t want stolen. Vehicle thefts typically take less than 20 seconds. 

9. Don’t pull into a public spot, remove items from inside the car and lock them in the trunk. Assume thieves are watching. Instead, put them in the trunk before driving to the location where you’ll want to hide them. An example, ladies: Lock your purse inside the trunk BEFORE you go to the beach. 

8. Park in the garage. If that means cleaning out the garage to be able to park, it’s worth it: chances are, your car’s worth more than the junk you’ve stored in the garage for the last 10 years. 

7. If your car must park in the driveway or on a street, install a loud alarm system with a visible, blinking dash light,” says PropertyCasualty360. Use your car alarm!

6. Wherever you stop, always roll up windows, lock doors and close your sunroof. Experts say all a thief needs is for windows to be rolled down just one inch to gain access.

5. Don’t hide keys anywhere inside or outside your car. Thieves know all those hiding spots. And don’t have your name and address on your key ring.

4. Never leave your car running and unattended, even on a quick stop at the ATM.

3. Choose your parking spot carefully. Make sure it’s well-lit if at night and where there is plenty of foot traffic.

2. Regardless of how old or dinged up your vehicle is, “you can never completely rule out the possibility of theft. Many times old cars are easier to break into and these models are stolen for parts, because they are easy to sell on the stolen parts market. And in some cases, criminals don't care about the value of the car they're stealing. They simply need temporary transportation,” says PropertyCasualty360.

1. Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle. Thieves typically choose vehicles without security systems that can’t be recovered quickly. Many insurers offer discounts for anti-theft devices, such as an audible alarm, kill switch, tracking system, etc.

 

Top 10 property security tips for boats

10. For sailboats, either remove all sails or stow them all below. Run a chain through the clews and lock them to the boat structure.

9. Maintain an inventory list ashore that includes all boat gear with the name, model, serial number, manufacturer, and description of each item. Digital images or photos of your gear could also go into this file.

8. Remove all personal property that can be easily taken, such as fishing equipment or portable electronics. Otherwise, lock them down. Using a diamond-tipped tool, etch your driver’s license number on expensive items.

7. Using the same etching tool, add your driver’s license number in a hidden spot on the motor, and if the vessel is stolen, tell police where to find the number for easier identification.

6. If the boat is stored at home, place in a location not visible from the street.  If possible, park it so that the trailer tongue faces away from street, to make maneuvering more difficult. Install stern drive and propeller locks to slow would-be thieves down.

5. If the boat will remain on the trailer, consider removing a wheel from the trailer and hide it in a locked location away from the boat. Or, chain and lock all wheels to each other and the trailer frame, so that it can’t be rolled.

4. Secure the boat so it can’t be easily moved. When using a trailer, install a quality trailer hitch lock.

3. Install an anti-theft alarm, kill switch or tracking system.

2.  If you use a marina, choose one with full-time security and good lighting.

1.  Never leave your key in the ignition or “hidden” on the boat when unattended. Thieves know the best hiding places.

Related: Boat theft prevention

Producers, you can help your clients stay safe this summer with these 30 property security tips. Feel free to share them with your insureds.